Collective Care is a written interview series with people who are changing the world. Most often, these folks are working at the intersection of creative, healing, and/or activist work.
I’m in love with the idea of amplifying the work (and self-care practices) of people who are building a more compassionate world. In this series, I get to chat with people who inspire me like whoa.
Today we get to meet Paula!
My friend Paula is such a lovely human. She’s an incredible coach, she’s brings so much soul to her fabulous podcast, and manages to be one of the sweetest human beings at the same time. She spreads joy everywhere she goes, and I’m so glad we’re friends.
Paula, take it away…
How are you changing the world? (What is your change-making, healing, and/or creative work? This might be paid, unpaid or a combination.)
By choosing joy, every day, and walking with others as they choose joy in their lives. I’ve found that “joy” can look like many things: love, being present, radical acceptance, radical gratitude, radical hospitality, happiness, contentment, freedom, solitude. Its faces are as varied as the people who are searching for it, and it’s kind of inevitable that somewhere along the way we lose site of joy in our day to day lives.
It might be that someone is met with a really hard situation, or, it might be that they wake up after working for ten years in the same job and wonder what happened. Both of these things happened to me, and in the midst of extreme trauma, something inside of me woke up.
It wanted me to fight, to feel, to re-find that loving, welcoming, spiritual, even ecstatic side of myself. Which was pretty far gone at that point. And so I fought, and everything changed, and now I get to walk with others as they decide it’s their turn to fight, too.
What challenges your heart in that journey?
Sometimes joy sucks. Recently, I’ve been wrestling with joy around this question – what happens when one person’s (or group’s or society’s) joy is only possible at the expense of another person’s (or group’s or society’s) joy? In what ways is each person on the planet, in choosing their own happiness, making choices that negatively impact others?
This question really begs a much larger sense of joy; and a redefinition of the term.
It’s really hard to sit with the idea that many of the things I choose to do each day that bolster my sense of contentment (heating my house, filling up my gasoline powered car, purchasing clothing) are only possible because other people are very possibly working to support an ecosystem in a way that is not especially joyful for them.
When I start to get into the ecosystem of joy, it’s hard. The interconnectedness of all people, all societies becomes so very real. I do what I can to minimize my negative impact on others, but I also have a deeper awareness that just by the nature of where I live, where I was born, how I was educated, that the life that I lead and leaves me culpable.
What inspires you to keep going?
My son, my husband, and my faith. I am deeply appreciative of being able to be a coach, and getting to work with people who are being as open and honest with themselves as they possibly can be. I’ve had clients tell me that after years of working with a therapist, that it’s our discussions that have allowed them to finally make progress. I’m deeply humbled by this.
While my coaching is very much “agnostic,” (meaning simply that I don’t bring up God or faith in my discussions with clients unless they want to talk about that side of their life) I’m moved and guided by the Prayer of Saint Francis.
Ultimately, I see this prayer as a call to be mindful, and to actively choose to be a reflection of light, hope, peace, joy, for everyone. The prayer is Christian, but I see it as going beyond a Christian practice, and being applicable to all things, all people, all of Creation.
How do you support yourself or tend to yourself and your heart in that process? What nourishes and replenishes you?
Even though I appear to be a huge extrovert, I need quiet time. I need the time away from the noise, away from the world, to re-find myself. Getting really still is so helpful. Meditating is very centering for me. Reading Pema Chodron’s books or listening to her teach is immensely comforting.
I’m inspired by sacred places, and sensing the history of a place, and visualizing the many hands that have touched a railing, or opened a door, and thinking of all those people as I touch the same thing.
My son often comes up with ridiculous things that make me laugh. I push myself to be the best version of myself because I want him to see what’s possible.
How do you experience care within community? How do others support you in your journey and practice?
I am lucky to be a part of a group of coaches who really support and love each other. Many of us met in training together; and that training started with a weekend long retreat. I found it to be quite beautiful that, as a group, we learned to hold space for and with each other, and developed a deep bond with one another. I really cherish that.
I’ve also discovered a community in creating a podcast; many friendships and bonds have been formed by being a host and I feel grateful for that.
My family of origin, and my husband and son both are genuinely supportive of my journey. My husband and I are very loving with each other about letting each other follow our hearts around what we were put here to do, and have gotten closer as each of us has done that.
For he and I, it’s about including each other in the conversation about what we want and need, and really listening to each other.
What’s your best piece of advice you have for people who want to make a difference?
Go take a step in whatever direction your heart says is the right way.
Be bold, and just go.
Paint us a picture of the more compassionate world and future you imagine.
I can imagine a world where we all rally together around what the larger picture of what joy means for us, collectively. It means tapping into radical acceptance, love, and hospitality. It means that all of us will need to get uncomfortable and look at what that change means for us, and recognizing that our joy is interconnected.
We can’t continue to ignore that often our joy comes at the expense of another person or group, whether we can see them or not. I can see us in a world where we see and feel and honor our interconnectedness and where we all work together to lift each other up, where we all get to choose joy, together.
Paula Jenkins is a life and career coach, and podcast host focused on transforming lives. From working one on one with coaching clients, to writing, and hosting a weekly podcast, she is dedicated to bringing more joy into the world. Her purpose and her work all dance with the transformative nature of joy, even when we are faced with hard times and difficult questions.
How to connect:
Paula’s guest post: What Failure Taught Me About Balance
Organized under Collective Care.